New Partnership Expands Outdoor Education Opportunities in North Dakota State Parks

Kristin Byram
Special to Devils Lake Daily Journal

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Parks & Recreation Department (NDPRD) and the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) are excited to announce a partnership designed to expand, enhance and support outdoor learning opportunities for all North Dakota public, private and homeschooled students through September 2024.

This partnership provides funding and support for 24 outdoor educational field days for students at the sixth-grade level (10-12 years of age); individualized student field-trip experiences for all grade levels; funding assistance for program fees and transportation to state parks; and an expansion of NDPRD’s online educational video presence, The Campfire Series. The funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act and programs are designed to enhance learning recovery due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Pin cherry, a tree that's native to North Dakota, shows off its fall colors in a Grand Forks park.

“We are proud and enthusiastic supporters of outdoor education. Extending learning opportunities outside the traditional classroom can have a lifelong impact on children,” said Cody Schulz, North Dakota Parks and Recreation director. “We are grateful for the partnership and resources that will enhance our educational programming and provide opportunities for more North Dakota students and families to visit our state parks.”

Ten educational field days for sixth graders will take place in 2022 across the state of North Dakota. The field days are designed for students to engage with five different outdoor-focused topics throughout the day in a state park setting. Field trips are also offered on a wide variety of topics for K-12 students, and educators are encouraged to contact the state parks to begin scheduling. There is a short application for field trip funding and transportation reimbursement located on the website below.

“Field trips offer wonderful opportunities for education outside the classroom, for students to learn about biology, history, geography and a wealth of other subjects,” said Kirsten Baesler, state superintendent of public instruction. “Our students will also become better acquainted with our marvelous state parks system, which is a resource for them, their families, and for all North Dakotans.”

WATFORD CITY, ND - JULY 29:  A buffalo is seen in Theodore Roosevelt National Park outside Watford City, North Dakota. North Dakota has been experiencing an oil boom in recent years, due in part to new drilling techniques including hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. In April 2013, The United States Geological Survey released a new study estimating the Bakken formation and surrounding oil fields could yield up to 7.4 billion barrels of oil, doubling their estimate of 2008, which was stated at 3.65 billion barrels of oil. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

North Dakota’s 13 state parks offer an abundance of natural, cultural, historical and recreational opportunities. “Combined with the beauty of North Dakota state parks, I cannot think of a better environment to enhance student learning as outdoor activities are known to improve physical, mental and emotional well-being,” noted NDPRD Education and Programs Chief Josh Steffan. “Our team is looking forward to expanding our educational and interpretive capability and encourage all school administrators and teachers to consider these educational opportunities for their students in a North Dakota state park.”